The Impact of Public Opinion on U.S. Foreign Policy since Vietnam: Constraining the Colossus

By Richard Sobel | Go to book overview

V
THE BOSNIA CASE
FROM NONINTERVENTION
TO INTERVENTION

THE BOSNIA CASE STUDY EXAMINES THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN AMERICAN PUBLIC opinion and the policies of both the Bush and Clinton administrations after the breakup of Yugoslavia following the end of the Cold War. In particular, it focuses on the fighting in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995. Chapter 11 reviews the historical background, the events on the ground, and the American policy responses to them by the two administrations. Parallel to its examination of the respective events and policies, the chapter looks at the attitudes of the American public as expressed in polls, congressional debates, and the media. The goal of the case study is to establish whether opinion had an impact on policy and if so, how much and what kind. Chapter 12 examines the actual impact of public sentiment on Bush administration policy in 1992 and 1993, while Chapter 13 looks at the impact of opinion on Clinton administration policies from 1993 to 1996.

In the Bush administration, the key decision-makers were, as for the most part in the Gulf War case, President George Bush, Secretaries of State James Baker and Lawrence Eagleburger, and Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney. In the Clinton administration, they were President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and Secretary of Defense William Perry.

For the Bosnia crisis, there are three major benchmarks for the Bush administration and three for the Clinton administration. The first Bush benchmark was the beginning of the fighting in April 1992. The second was the response to the escalation of Serb attacks in early 1992. And the third was the shift to a policy of great engagement in December 1992.

The first Clinton benchmark was the push for NATO airstrikes after the first Sarajevo market massacre in February 1994. The second benchmark was the mid-1995 intensification of U.S. engagement through robust airstrikes. The third benchmark was the Dayton negotiations and accords in late 1995.

Chapters 12 and 13 enlarge and deepen the study of this nexus between opinion and policy by analyzing each major policymaker in the Bush and Clinton administrations separately to establish the particular contribution of public opinion to their

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